Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Total Strangers

And then I run into a ‘Ram Bhakt’ in the city of Agra one night.
The train arrived couple of hours late. It was almost 11 when I checked in the hotel. I walked out for the dinner and returned very late.
A bunch of men were sitting outside around a bonfire trying to beat the chilling weather last January. I sought their permission to sit with them. They were courteous men, mostly drivers, cleaners, support staff at the hotels nearby. The one chanting “RAAM” once every minute asked me if all is ok?
“Aap tourist nahi lagte Babuji, kiya baat hai?”
I tell them about Maa and why am just wandering around aimlessly.
His concern turns into a smile and he invokes shlokas from his holy book ‘Bahgvad Geeta’ to tell my why I shud stay with life. Why I shud not run away like this.
“Accha Khayen, Accha Pehne, Khsuh Rahen – Yehi Aap Ki Mataa Aap Se Chagnegi!”
I nod in agreement controlling my chest which was ready to explode due to intense emotions.
Cut to Burhanpur, MP, April 2017
I wanted to have Biryani so I went to Old City areas of Burhanpur. The Biryani was awesome and as I step out of the restaurant I see a man selling desert.
“Chai Hoti To Khareed Letaa…Chai Ke Bagair Maza Nahi Aayega!
Chai Bhi Aa Jayegi. Aap Tashreef Rakehn.
An Old bearded man offers me his chair. Reluctantly I sit down and Chai arrives in no time. I am surprised by his hospitality so I thank him. He tells me that this is not his business. He is just helping a frnd who has gone for some work.
Meanwhile the conversations drifts in all directions. I pay attention to him more closely when, all of sudden he talks about how his mother died of Asthama and how he cared for her.
I tell him about Maa and her Asthama.
“Jo Hua Allah Ki Marzi Thi. Duniya Ko Hansne Ka Mauka Na Den. Ab Aap Seena Nikal Ke Chalen. Fakhr Se. Khsuh Rahen. Accha Khayen. Accha Pehne. Kuch Karna Hai To Ye Karen Maa Ke Liye!”.
I tear up listening to him. I wonder why these total strangers meeting me in these towns and conveying just the same message. Why? Who is prompting them to tell me those words? Their backgrounds are different but the message remains the same.
What If we all behave like strangers? How wud life be then? We can speak to each other without inbuilt safeguards or “calculations”. We can value each other’s time knowing these moments will never come back as this encounter is temporary.
It is the illusion of 'permanency' that creates walls amongst us. We build these walls of ego, status, color, nationality, religion around us and get trapped for life. Life is beautiful even in grief once we knock down these walls.
Oh well..

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